LAST week’s announcement from Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner, that there would be no deals with the SNP and no chance of Labour supporting an independence referendum was another disappointment, but no surprise.

The loss of Scotland, she argued, would cause permanent Tory rule in England. It was the duty of Scots to stay, and vote Labour, for the sake of their beleaguered English brethren.

The great unspoken deal done with the ­British establishment, about the time Ramsey MacDonald became Prime Minister, was that Labour would seek social and economic reform, but not a revolution in the nature of the state. In return for being accepted as a legitimate party of government, Labour would undertake not to alter the structural fundamentals of the British system – the unwritten constitution, the ­monarchy, the House of Lords, the Church of England, the private schools, the Union.

Constitutionally, the Labour Party has been instinctively conservative ever since. In 1997, when Tony Blair came to power, almost a ­decade of work had already been done on ­proposals for serious constitutional reform. Following the statement of principles by Charter 88, the ­Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) had, by the early 1990s, produced a draft written constitution for the UK which, if not perfect, was at least very good and in parts excellent.

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If Blair had adopted such a constitution, we would not be in the mess we are in today. So much of the current government’s authoritarian agenda – from attacks against the courts and ­restrictions on human rights, to the undermining of the Electoral Commission and the erosion of the civil service – would be unconstitutional.

But Blair did no such thing. Instead, the ­Labour Party’s constitutionally conservative ­instincts took over. He did the minimum he could get away with, superficially ­“modernising”, but in half-baked measures and to no coherent plan.

The result was a bodged, unbalanced ­political system. Whatever logical coherence and ­certainty the pre-1997 system once had was lost, but no new constitutional settlement was reached to replace it.

When it comes to the Union, the Labour ­Party’s lack of constitutional vision is buttressed by a pitifully anachronistic British nationalism.

The Labour Party is really the only British party in the United Kingdom.

The Tories are, deep in their bones, an ­English party. English Tories see the Union merely as an extension of English power. England, in their view, controls and owns Scotland in much the same way as it once controlled and owned, say, Nyasaland. They do not necessarily say it in precisely those terms, but the mask slips pretty often.

Although both Scottish Presbyterianism and the non-conformity of the British ­periphery have shaped the moral and intellectual ­character of old Liberalism, the Liberal Democrats are also by origin a party of England. Their roots lie in the English revolutions of the 17th century. They are arguably England’s natural second party.

Not so for Labour. The Labour Party was a ­product of the Union. Fully committed to ­British ­nationalism, it is firmly set against the self-determination of its constituent nations not, as with the Tories, for brute reasons of ­resources, power and domination, but for reasons of what they call principle: a hatred of “nationalism”.

This hatred of nationalism does not apply to British nationalism, which gets a free pass. Pandering to British nationalism to try and win back “red wall” voters is apparently fine.

Neither does it apply to Irish nationalism – Labour have always been happy to work with the SDLP, which is an Irish nationalist party.

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The Labour Party does not insist, on ­anti-nationalist grounds, that Portugal should be governed from Madrid, or that Denmark should be governed from Stockholm. Being the smaller neighbouring country, with a historical connection and some cultural similarities, does not, elsewhere, make national independence ­unacceptable. Only Scotland is treated that way.

Well, Scotland and England.

Many progressives look down on common-or-garden Englishness as provincial, traditionalist and reactionary. This attitude can be traced to the inter-war years of Labour’s rise to power, when the left came to associate England with the parochialism and class hierarchies they scorned. Labour are much more at home with the buzzword-laden and faux-inclusive – but ultimately vacuous – official Britishness of the sort presented by the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.

Relying on Scotland to keep the Tories out of power has never worked. UK general elections are decided in England. If Labour really ­wanted to keep the Tories out, they would commit to proportional representation – as proposed in the IPPR draft constitution. But that is not their real motivation. What Labour are really ­terrified of is England.

The Union is needed by the Labour party in England so that they don’t have to accept – and confront – their own English identity.

Labour’s British nationalism is really a kind of Anglophobia.